Friday, April 26, 2013

Rochester NY Cemetery Databases

     Now that temperate weather has returned, cemetery research can resume here in the northeast.  There are several very useful online grave finding aids in Rochester, New York.  The best site is maintained by the Rochester library and covers Mount Hope and Riverside cemeteries   This searchable database features actual images of the cemetery books replete with the decedent’s name, age, cause of death, address and burial location.  To use the search function, simply type in the first 2 letters of the surname.  A page will appear with links to surnames beginning with those two letters listed alphabetically and by year range.  Select the appropriate link to view the page in the book where you will find the forenames grouped roughly alphabetically.

Mount Hope Cemetery book

     Mount Hope is an interesting place to visit even if you don’t have family there.  Frederick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony are two of the many famous people who rest in Mount Hope, and the funereal architecture is beautiful.  There are walking tours of the cemetery, and self guided tours also; I would recommend May when the forget me nots are in bloom.  It’s not known who first planted that wee flower of remembrance on the grounds, but today they wend their way among the 200 year old oaks and glacial ridges and ravines, enveloping the markers and mausoleums in a sea of pale blue—stunning.

     Mount Hope and Riverside are non-denominational cemeteries.  The Catholics are across town at Holy Sepulchre, which also has a database, but one which is not as informative.      At this site you will find a name, age and the location of the grave, but these are transcriptions.  No book image and no cause of death.  To ascertain a cause, you can view microfilm of Holy Sepulchre cemetery books at the Rochester library which I did to find my Great, Great Aunt Julia Sullivan and her husband Dennis.  Dennis died of nephritis, but the filmed books ended a year before Julia’s death in 1917.  Now what; spend $22 to order a death certificate from New York State?  Not if I can help it.

     What I did is call the cemetery hoping they could tell me where to find the information.  The woman who answered the phone was very friendly, told me yes they had the more recent books there in the office basement, and no, I could not look at them.  However, she volunteered to check them for me and promised to call back within a few hours.  In less than half an hour she returned my call with the information that Julia had passed away from consumption.  Moral?  Never be afraid to ask, the worst they can do is say no.  And don't skip the local library when seeking death records, they may have just what you need.


  1. Ellie,

    I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  2. I'm very flattered Jana! Thank you so much.